City Council stalls commercial project

Nude sunbathers are taken into account in discussions about aerial photographs.

By Sylvie Belmond/Staff Writer

The initiation of a commercial project was stalled when the City Council upheld a portion of an appeal by a homeowners association. The association was concerned that traffic issues were not properly mitigated and mandatory natural habitat setbacks were reduced without good cause.

The proposed 14,950 square feet, one-story commercial project on Portshead Road was approved by the Planning Commission last year. The project is designed by well-known architect Ed Niles and is intended to serve Malibu professionals with much needed office space.

Members of the Point Dume Homeowners Association thought the project was flawed primarily because the project could divert more traffic into the neighborhood, and adding traffic exiting to Pacific Coast Highway from Portshead would be problematic as well.

Mayor Joan House removed herself from discussion about the project because Niles is the architect of her home and a friend. She thought her opinion about the project would be biased.

With Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Jennings at the helm, the four remaining councilmembers denied the first part of the appeal regarding the setback reduction but upheld the second part based on the traffic concerns that were not fully investigated.

“We all agreed that traffic rerouting on Point Dume was a problem, but we disagreed on how to solve it,” said Councilmember Tom Hasse in a later interview. Hasse made some suggestions on that matter but Councilmembers Sharon Barovsky and Ken Kearsley wanted a complete traffic study.

“The issue was the methodology to solve the problem,” concluded Hasse. “Some wanted it faster than others.” In the end, the council voted unanimously in favor of the traffic study.

In other matters:

Nude sunbathers can rest assured that the City Council will take the necessary steps to protect their privacy.

The city voted to hire Vexcel Corp. to take aerial photos to map the city, and quickly determined that pixelation will preserve the privacy of sunbathers that are unintentionally photographed. But during the short debate, Councilmember Jeff Jennings also wanted advance notice for the residents before the photos are taken. It will give them time “to get the pot plants inside,” he joked.

Though it is in the midst of a crisis, the City Council still took care of some house chores. The Council unanimously agreed to adopt a public improvement guideline for the Civic Center Village guidelines. This approval does not include any roadway or intersection improvements and it will not initiate any zoning text or General Plan amendments.

The guidelines only set the tone of what the Civic Center should look like, suggesting what the city would like to see in that area as developers make plans to build on their properties.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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